Uniforms in University

Thai students wearing school uniforms.

Olten, 3 February 2017. Hoodies, T-shirts, jeans, and a backpack. This is the image of university student that is easy to recall. However, there are students who go to school with white shirts, black pants, and skirts; they are university students in Thailand.

Whenever walking along the street in Thailand, you can often see university students wearing school uniforms. School uniform tends to display and show the characteristic of school, and vary from school to school. But it is not the case in Thailand. Only the necktie, badge and the mark engraved to the belt are different.

Southeast Asian nations, including Thailand, were under the Communist Party and now Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam which have remnants of socialism, are implementing a mandatory school uniform policy. North Korea is the only country that has the policy, aside from Southeast Asian nations. Among the nations pursuing democracy, Thai university students are the only students who wear school uniform obligatorily.

Thai people believe that everyone is all equal, when they wear uniform. They can get out of discrimination whenever they go to school, wearing school uniform, even though they wear luxury goods like Channel, Gucci, or drive an exorbitant car. However, at the same time, school uniform is ‘a symbol of fortune’.

In Thailand, ‘uniform’ reveals people’s identity and position. Most people who wear uniform have higher income and education level, and students’ school uniforms are no exception. For them, the uniform assures ‘equality’, as well as embracing the meaning of ‘ostentation’ simultaneously.

Thai culture which highly esteems manners and norms, is another reason that makes Thai university students wear school uniforms. In order to follow a number of norms and standards in the society in their future, they should first abide by a simple rule of wearing uniforms. Also, Thai people think that by wearing uniforms young people learn how to respect and appreciate others.

According to Thai Survey Research Organizations, 94% of students in Bangkok responded that school uniforms are necessary. Furthermore, 71% of them answered that they should wear uniforms on the day in the classes.

“I personally really like the uniform concept, because it makes all the students look equal” says Nuii Patrapan Sangsongsuk, an exchange student of FHNW, and continues “No matter how rich or poor background the student have, they all look somewhat the same in their school uniforms. Also, it’s a good system to prevent unnecessary fashion at schools, which could be a symbolic sign of unrespectfulness e.g. ripped jeans.”

However, not everyone agreed with it. In 2009 and 2013, Jjullarongkon and Tammassat university students stirred up a movement against school uniforms. They revolted against mandatory school uniform policy, saying that it infringed on autonomy and human rights, but eventually, it ended up in failure.

Author : Jooyeon Hong
Edited by: Inka Närhi

Clothes matter!

Olten, 4 December 2016. FHNW students have experience differences in daily fashion between Switzerland and Latin America. Karin and Francisco agreed that clothes matter more in Latin America than in Switzerland.

“It really matters what you wear in Latin America” says Karin, student of business administration at the FHNW, whose semester abroad changed completely the way she thinks about fashion.

In the beginning of her exchange semester, Karin dressed up more casually as she normally does in Switzerland where clothes do not matter that much. In Switzerland quality and comfort are more important than showing up with a right brand, she continues. In Latin America, however, she noticed soon that people were estimating ones social status based on clothes and dressing up helped to give a positive boost on her relationships.

Francisco (an exchange student from Ecuador) has a similar opinion: During his exchange semester in Switzerland, he found it shocking to see European people in casual jeans and T-shirts. “In Latin America this is considered a style for a person with low status in the society, such as a gardener or housekeeper” he explains.

Francisco shares Karin’s opinion, that in Latin America image is very important and clothes are seen a strong signal of status: “Right kinds of clothes are essential, in order to show ones social class and wealth”, he finishes.

Author: Hannah Strandberg
Edited by: Inka Närhi

A New Fabric for Fairtrade – Launch of the Responsible Business Initiative

Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice

Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice

Olten, 16 October 2016. Around 120’000 signatures were handed in on 10th October 2016 in Switzerland by a broad body of more than 80 organisations, marking the beginning of a promising new approach against human rights abuses and environmental damage. The petition also targets the fashion industry where workers wages often are low and safety is poor.

The Swiss initiative aims to extend the country’s high product quality aspirations to labour conditions and environmental protection for companies that operate from Switzerland around the globe. It envisages a mandatory due diligence process that includes a risk-evaluation covering these companies, their subsidiaries and suppliers, concerning potential dangers for humans and the environment that arise from business activities. The companies then are supposed to eliminate these dangers and report about it.

As pointed out on their website, the initiative committee lists a wide array of neglect in many fields, for example “abusive child labour in cocoa production” and “environmental damages caused by the extractive mining industry.”

Buying a shirt that has been produced in Bangladesh, for example, requests a lot of consumer’s faith in the statements made by international brands proclaiming to uphold basic standards. However, these more often than not fail to be formulated and implemented – with deadly consequences. A fresh reminder of this gap in the market of globalized workers’ rights has been the collapse of a multi-story-building near Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing thousands in 2013.

Further information under http://konzern-initiative.ch/?lang=en

Author: Matthias Neff
Edited by: Inka Närhi